Australian piracy crackdown on the way

Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014

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The Australian government hates piracy, and Attorney-General George Brandis is the man in Canberra who wants it gone from their shores.

And from the looks of things, he’ll throw just about every weapon he has at the problem until it goes away, including three-strikes programs for those caught downloading content and a requirement for ISPs to potentially “take down” websites hosting infringing content. Brace yourselves: a crackdown is coming.

Speaking at a Copyright Law forum in Canberra yesterday, Attorney-General George Brandis said that he’s considering a whole raft of measures to curb the runaway problem of online film and television piracy in Australia.

Brandis indicated in his speech that he’s considering taking up the charge again for a three-strikes system that sees offenders warned before action is taken against their accounts.

"The Government will be considering possible mechanisms to provide a ‘legal incentive’ for an internet service provider to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement on their systems and networks.

"This may include looking carefully at the merits of a scheme whereby ISPs are required to issue graduated warnings to consumers who are using websites to facilitate piracy."

Of course, this system is nothing new.

When talks were held on the potential for a “graduated” strike-based system back in 2011-12, iiNet withdrew from the talks early saying that ISPs were being forced to act as the content industry’s police force enforcing a broken system.

Another anti-piracy measure being considered by the Government is a system that would see ISPs act exactly like that proverbial police force, as the Federal Court may compel service providers to “take down” infringing websites.

"Another option that some stakeholders have raised with me is to provide the Federal Court with explicit powers to provide for third party injunctions against ISPs, which will ultimately require ISPs to ‘take down’ websites hosting infringing content.

"Most importantly, in framing any enforcement reforms, my preference would be to facilitate industry self-regulation, as opposed to active and continuing government regulation."

Insane leaps of logic aside, what happens if that “infringing content” is being hosted on a website like Facebook, Google or YouTube? Is the Australian government going to try and take these websites down too?

Brandis went on to say that he didn’t want to burden Australian ISPs with more regulation than necessary, but added that piracy is a problem killing the country's film industry, and one which must be stopped.

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You can read the full speech here.

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